Most men believe rape and marriage are two words that should not exist in the same sentence because a man cannot be rape his wife. He’s imply taking what is his right in the first place.Unfortunatley most women are not always in the mood for sex. Kingsley Obom-Egbulem examines the issue of rape in marriage and tries to wear the shoes of women who cant understand why their husbands simply can’t take it when their wives says NO
“Every part of a man’s body belongs to him and he decides what he does with each part. The same cannot be said of a woman. There are two parts of a woman’s body which she hasn’t got absolute control over who touches it or who can have access to it”.
With those words, world acclaimed Professor of gynecology Mahmoud Fathala eloquently summarized one of the pains of womanhood. It also painted a graphic picture of women’s position with respect to determining when to have sex, how to have it, where and with whom.
So when a woman is raped ,it is simply an enactment of this dominance and control by men whether or not the perpetrator is a stranger or her husband.
“Nothing is as frustrating and destructive as having sex when you are not ready for it or when you simply don’t have the power either physically or otherwise to say no to sex with whomever is demanding for it and this for me is rape”, says Margaret Onah, an advocate working on HIV prevention and rehabilitation among commercial sex workers.
While a majority of women have at one time or the other been victims and survivors of rape and sexual violation, the experiences of women who were (and still being) raped by men they have professed love to and have decided to spend the rest of their lives with seems like a huge paradox .
“Can a man rape his wife?”, that was how Femi Adepoju, Editor, First Weekly Magazine, responded when the issue when asked his opinion about spousal rape. But like most men, especially those who perpetrate this act, Adepoju can’t imagine such a scenario.
So incredulous is this reality that the affected women often live in denial. Truth is, marital rape is real! Many husbands are raping their wives.
But drawing a line between “rape” in marriage and a man “ forcefully taking what belongs to him by right” has been a major source of controversy. The controversy has two distinct schools of thought.
“A marriage certificate is not a license to have sex when you want it. It still requires mutual agreement.” ,argues one side of the divide.
“If they are married she must expect to have sex with him and a man forcing himself on his wife can’t be termed rape.”, says the other group constitutes mostly of men who are either culprits or men who can’t take no from their wives when it comes to sex no matter the reason.
In the face of these arguments, what do obtains in reality?
Itunu(surname withheld) had a pathetic experience which not a few women(and male perpetrators can easily identify with.
On the first day of their honey moon, she and her husband had a serious misunderstanding which created a rift between them and was about affecting the need to consummate their marriage when the husband demanded for sex.
“I was still crying based on what he did that afternoon and the next thing he said was ‘are we not having sex’?’. “You want to do what?”, I asked wanting to be sure I heard him correctly because I was not too sure how a man would want to have sex with a hurting woman who was still crying. ‘Such a man must be callous’ ,I thought to myself.
If that was Itunu’s definition of callousness, then her husband was indeed callous, and he sure proved himself.
“The next thing he did was to take off his clothes, reached for my arm, pulled me close to him and reached for my house wear which I changed into shortly after the argument. He undressed me, ripped all he could rip and while I was still trying to be sure this wasn’t a nightmare, he was through. And slept off.”
The husband raped her or so it seems(Please see the article Rape and battered into submission for details off Itunu’s story )
“There are several epidemics which we all know so much about and dealing with because they are openly discussed and addressed but the bulk of what women experience in their homes-the abuses, the battery, the deprivation ,assault and the rape are silent epidemic s which we need to confront because they even have more devastating consequences ”, says Onah.
Several religious and socio-cultural beliefs especially in Africa and indeed Nigeria perpetuates the atmosphere of silence on the issue of spousal rape and may help to keep women in marriages where they are raped. These factors often make the woman to feel that she is therefore responsible for the abuse. In addition, if she can’t see any way of escape she may deny or minimize the violence she is experiencing in order to survive it.
But why would a man rape his wife? Isn’t sex supposed to be part of the marriage bargain like most men have often argued? So, if it is, why then should rape be part of the picture in the first place?
According to updates from The Wife Rape Information page, there are several ways a man may abuse his wife’s body. “If she is tired or ill, he may wait until she is asleep and simply take what he feels he deserves to take. Or he may bully, harass and demean his wife into giving in, threatening her with seeking “it” elsewhere. He can use tactics such as debasing her self-esteem, telling her she is little more than an appliance to him, or worse.
The badly torn and bleeding wife may ask her husband why, and be told “you know damned well all women secretly want to be raped” With her pride and body in tatters, there is little else she can do but try and hide her wounds from family and friends, and pray each night it won’t happen again. But it does-after the first assault, it may be months, but it will happen again sooner or later and it will not stop, until you do something about it.”
“My husband respects my feelings and decisions. He knows when I am in the mood and when Iam not in the mood and he simply allows me to have my way even thought he often wants to know my reasons for giving excuses”, says Tundun Onayiga a party planner and event organizer.
Although Onayiga agrees that she might just be one of the few women with understanding men husbands, she also believes the excuses are not always received “with a pinch of salt”.
“Its not all the time that my husband understands and empathizes with me, just that it is what he does afterwards that matters; he doesn’t slap me, punch me or tear my clothes and rape me or even go and see a mistress like I hear some men would do, he often say “this your story don plenty o “ and we will just laugh over it”.
Perhaps one thing that may interest may people especially women is an answer to questions such as “what type of man rapes his wife?”
Experts argue that though rapists dehumanize their victims, men who rape their spouses can be more savage than the better known type of rapist.
Men who rape their wives are said to be very egocentric. Their needs and wants are the most important thing in the world to them. When made uncomfortable by denial of any sort, they tend to overreact by shouting, punching walls or-raping. They consider marriage an automatic entitlement to sex on demand. Always on their terms of course. These men are not only extremely dysfunctional and selfish, they can be dangerous. When angered beyond reason, they may in fact, rape their wives as brutally as anyone sitting in prison for the same crime.
Currently, no man has been tried for raping his wife. And it is still not clear how many women are be willing to describe their husbands as rapists-even if that is the best way to describe their sexual conduct at home.
But some men are actually raping their wives and the women at the receiving end of this atrocity know where the shoe pinches.
In the face of ongoing efforts to address and possibly eliminate this silent epidemic, the absence of the right environment for women to press charges or even call their husbands to question without any fear of been victimised or sent packing will continue to keep women- especially those in marriages in perpetual bondage and make them objects of sexual assaults and violations.